Ray’s Run into Trouble with A’s

 

Athletics 2, Rays 1

 

 

The Rays Television networks had originally scheduled for three games to not be televised during this 10 game road trip. But the Ion network and FSN both picked up one contest in the Texas and the Mariner’s series to make only last night’s game the lone radio and MLB gamecast only game on this trip.;

Little did they know they might have picked the perfect game for no one to want to watch.  For people to view anything on this game, they would have had to purchase or already have the MLB Television package, and would have gotten the Oakland A’s broadcast team commenting on the game.

It is usually a wild night to hear another teams’ boradcast duo tell you things about your squad. Usually you only here the comments concerning their squad, which is acceptable, but every once in a while you hear and see something that makes you chuckle. Last night it was the comment near the end of the night that we were a team in flux, without two stars who spun the moon and created the heavens and we were not the same Rays team last night.

I know this team will be in that flux for a few weeks, but they also are professional players and need to suck it up and show that they have the gumption and the fortitude to climb this mountain without hesistation. I did not see that in their faces or actions last night, but I know it is just a small problem within the clubhouse that will get fixed immediately.

Either that, or our 3 game lead over Boston will be gone after Friday night’s game in Texas. The Rays have had a few key guys go down before this season. The must rebound and re-sound to the MLB nay-sayers that this team is about heart and hustle and not playing with a set of mirrors this season. If they do not make the strides to correct themselves, they will be victim to those October blues called the “what if’s”.

 

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Rays starter Scott Kazmir has been off his game a few times this season. If you looked totally at the boxscore and did not venture to see what really happened in this contest, you would have thought he had another bad outing.

 Kazmir actually had a great outing, he was consistant in his placement of the ball over the plate and struck out 6 in the game while walking 2 batters.  He really only had otwo critical mistakes in his 2-run, 2-hit effort on the night. And both of those errors happened back to back to secure the win for the A’s.

Oakland’s Emil Brown started the 2nd inning off by walking on 6 pitches from Kazmir. Then Bobby Crosby battled Kazmir from a 3-2 count to hit a hanging pitch to left center to put the A’s up for good 2-0. In his 5 innings, Kazmir never had another rough inning but the 2nd inning. He retired the side, three up, three down in both the 1st, 4th,and 5th innings of the game.

 

 

Before the game it was announced that Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford will undergo surgery to correct his hans issues and will be out at least 6-8 weeks for the Rays. The injury happened during the 10th innnig of the Seattle Mariner’s game on Saturday night. Crawford heard a “popping” sound in his hand area and the Rays suggested immediate X-rays to rule out a break.

The Ray quickly put him and Evan Longoria on a red eye flight back to Tampa Bay to see the Rays doctors about their injuries. The X-rayson Crawford were examined by the Rays local doctor, who advised Crawford to have surgery on Thursday to eliminate any future  problems.

the injury is to his middle index finger on his right hand down near the joint area where the finger meets the hand. The tendon that rests on top of his fingers was being forced out by him swinging the bat at the plate. The tendon normally sets in a groove in this area and flexs and moves without incident. But Crawford’s tendon was flexing and not returning to it’s right position and had to be manually manipulated to be put back into it’s tendon area.

Crawford is expected to be out a maximum of 6-8 weeks, but the decision will be Crawfords and the medical staff to decide if the injury heals faster, or is season ending at that time.

 

 

 

 

The 4th inning of last night’s game did not look like a first place team playing another squad that was 20 games out of first place. It looked more like two struggling squads just trying to get a few runs and hold onto a lead to win a contest that neither wanted to lose.

In the 5th inning, with Ben Zorbrist on third and Jason Bartlett on first, Akinora Iwamura tried to put dowmn a safety squeeze play to get the Rays the tying run in the game.  Iwamura did get down a bunt on the play, but it was right in front of the mound and Zorbrist mis-read the play and sprinted for home.

In the run down, Zorbrist was tageed out between third and home to stop the Rays’ plans to score. Iwamura was safe on first with a fielder’s choice, and Bartlett moved to second on the play. Then  A’s starter, Gio Gonzalez picked off Bartlett on second and ended the Rays threat in the inning.

A good safety squeeze would put the ball towards the first base side so the pitcher would not have eye sight of the runner on thrid and take to logical raoute of getting the out at first base. With the play right in front of the mound, Gonzalez only had to look over his shoulder to see Zorbrist caught between the bases for an easy out. To make matters worse, B J Upton singled  following the play and would have scored either Zorbrist and possibly Bartlett to give the Rays the lead in the game.

 

 

The Rays scored their lone run of the game in the 3rd inning. Zorbrist walked on 4 pitches and went to third on Jason Bartlett’s double to deep left centerfield. Aki then hit a sacrifice fly to score Zorbrist from third and bring the Rays with in 1 run of the game 2-1. 

 

 

 The Rays would again threathen in the 4th inning when Rocco Baldeii and Willy Aybar both walked with 1 out, but Dioner Navarro and Justin Ruggiano both struck out to smother the threat for the Rays.  In the contest, the Rayts stranded 9 men on base without scoring a single run.

This has been a re-occuring theme in the Rays’ game this season. They have one of the leagues worst percentages of hitting with  men in scoring position. This is a statistic that will be further magnified in the coming weeks as to the either downfall or upward swing of the Ray’s season.  The Rays need to put the bat on the ball more in theses positions with postive results before the season comes down to missed opportunities on the basepaths.

 

 

Talking about the basepaths. In the 8th inning, Aybar started a rally off by singling to leftfield.   Eric Hinske then came on to pinch hit for Jusitn Ruggiano. Hinske hit a high fly ball to left field that was caught by Emil Brown.

 Aybar had taken off from first thinking the play was over Brown’s head and realized he had caught the ball as he rounded second halfway to third base. Brown noticed Aybar beyond second and knew he had no real chance of retreating to first and threw the ball to first baseman Daric Barton to double up Aybar on the play.

Now, I know Aybar was trying to make something happen, but even in Little League, we are told to keep our heads up and watch the ball before sprinting to another base on a fly ball hit deep. This is an example of the night’s errors that cost the Rays this game. I am not saying that the next batter would have gotten a needed hit to move Aybar, but the point is moot if he is not even on the basepaths.

 

 

A true positive in this game was the hitting of DH Bartlett. He went 2-4 on the night and hit for contact on his other two at-bats in the game. The Rays are expecting to put Bartlett back at shortstop during  Friday night’s in Texas.

The Rays have missed his offensive power in the past few games, but they did sandwich three great games in between their two losses during this roadtrip. Having Bartlett back in the hole will free up Zorbrist to either play third base, or even hit the outfield for a few innings.

Also of positive note for the Rays was the 8 innings of play by Rocco Baldelli in rightfield. Rocco seemd to be loose and calm out in right all game long. This is a good bit of news for the Rays as Rocco just might be that right-handed batter we have been seeking the past few months for our lineup.

Rocco only went 1-3 on the night to raise his average to .283, but he hit with power in his at-bats and could see the ball well at the plate. All good signs for the Rays.

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